Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Book review : Thorn - Intisar Khanani

On the front cover of my review copy of Intisar Khanani's Thorn is an indication that it is inspired by The Goose Girl fairy tale. This instantly had me intrigued, as this isn't a story that I was familiar with. I went and had a quick read of the synopsis of The Goose Girl on finishing the book and it is, in fact, very similar. The book fully develops the characters of the fairy tale though, giving a real insight into the two girls' very different personalities and the deep understanding and sense of moral duty of the princess. It also takes a closer look at the dangers of life as a lowly worker and the darker side of the kingdom, which the princess can encounter through her work and her humble living quarters.

At the beginning of the book, the young princess Alyrra is summoned by a neighbouring king, who wants her to marry his son, Prince Kestrin. She soon sets off in a carriage, accompanied by a maid, Valka, who obviously doesn't like Alyrra much, following past drama at the court. On the way, a magical attack swaps over the two women so they inhabit each other's bodies. On arrival at the court, Valka is swept away to the castle and bedecked in fine robes as the future princess-bride, while Alyrra is cast out among the poor villagers, given a menial job as a goose girl and left to her own devices. Despite not speaking the same language as her co-workers and having no experience of working with animals, Alyrra throws herself into the job, happy in her new life with her new friends. But can she really be content in this new lifestyle?

Alyrra certainly has no desire to go back to being a princess. In her former life, as a child and young woman, she was constantly disrespected by her mother and physically abused by her bullying brother. She is happy enough in her new life as a worker and has no desire to resume her previous role. However, when her friend goes missing and is eventually found, badly hurt after being attacked, she becomes aware not only of the darker side of the kingdom but also the guards' total lack of empathy and desire to help the lower ranks of society. How can she make things right if she maintains her status of worthless goose girl?

Alyrra is an absolute underdog. Whether living as a princess with her vicious family or working her fingers to the bone in menial labour, she never seems to find her true worth. She does, however, decide to make a difference, following her heart and her brain to put things right, even if this may lead her into danger. Despite the elements of magic in the story (a talking horse, a magical necklace that will throttle the princess if she starts to speak of her plight, ...), Alyrra comes across as a believable heroine and one who could definitely bring about great changes in the kingdom. She's a great role model for young women, as she constantly counts on her own inner strength and belief in what is right to finally come out on top.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Hot Key Books (24 Mar. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471408728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471408724

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. Hmm, my comment seem to have evaporated in the cyber-space. Just wanted to say that there is a trend nowadays for the books based on the fairy and folk tales. Some are very imaginative. I like the sound of this book, and will look for it.

    1. I must admit, I like to have a fresh look at old tales :)

  2. This sounds like an interesting read. It's intriguing to read how an old tale can be reimagined.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...